Dismissive Avoidant Ex Reached Out First (What to Do)

Many of my anxiously attached and even fearful avoidant clients are pleasantly surprised when a dismissive avoidant ex reaches out first. They’ve read everywhere, watched YouTube videos, and been told that dismissive avoidants don’t reach out after a break-up, but alas! a dismissive avoidant ex reached out first.

But as excited they are that their dismissive avoidant ex reached out first, they also wonder what does it mean?

Instances when dismissive avoidants reach out after a break-up

Let’s clear the “Do dismissive avoidants reach out after a break-up?” confusion first. I admit I have somewhat contributed to generalizing dismissive avoidant behaviour post break-up but I’ve also tried to identify exceptions where dismissive avoidants reach out first after the break-up i.e.

  • They regret the break-up or feel guilty for ending the relationship
  • They care enough about your well-being and wan to make sure you’re okay
  • If they were attached to you and want you to see their continued interest
  • When they you’ve come to terms with the break-up and now the two of you can be friends
  • When they want to hook-up etc.

And because dismissives avoidants generally don’t initiate no contact unless the relationship was toxic, the breakup was nasty, or an ex is being disruptive (too much stress and drama) post break-up, a dismissive avoidant can continue texting back and forth but at a slower pace. They’re okay with being in contact with an ex because unlike anxiously attached and fearful avoidants, break-ups are not “too painful” for dismissive avoidants and don’t upset their daily life. A dismissive avoidant can afford to stay in contact with an ex but with more distance than when you were together.

In my article What Are A Dismissive Avoidant Breakup Stages, I mentioned that sometimes dismissive avoidants don’t remember (or care) who broke up with whom. They think you broke up with them and you think they broke up with you. The reason for this is that most dismissive avoidant breakups are fadeouts rather than “we’re breaking up”.

You have a fight or argument, and a dismissive avoidant disappears for weeks even for months. Completely ghosted you. You don’t know if you’re broken up, on a break or waiting to break-up. In these instances, there’s a very high chance that a dismissive avoidant ex will reach out because:

  1. They don’t think it’s necessary to make a big deal out of what happened and want to move on from it.
  2. They feel responsible in part for the way things are. Stepping out of their comfort zone is their way of trying to make things right again.
  3. They are not yet ready to let go you, or give up on the relationship.

But a dismissive avoidant ex reaching out does not mean they want you to start reaching out everyday or expect them to. It does not also mean a dismissive avoidant ex wants to talk about why they ghosted you and why they’re now reaching out. Dismissive avoidants are not the type of people to reach out first to talk about relationship issues, or reach out just to feel connected. They would rather minimize contact with others because being alone is safer than being close to others.

Why dismissive avoidant exes reach out then quickly backs off

During the relationship, most dismissive avoidants mostly respond when you reach out and take their time to respond to texts. When they reach out, their texts consist of few words. They’ll not chat with you all day long and will end contact with the slightest indication of confrontation or criticism. They forget birthdays and only show concern for your well-being if they think the situation is serious.

They don’t see the point of reaching out for reaching out’s sake and ignore texts that seem like you are reaching out just for reaching out’s sake. And unlike fearful avoidants, dismissive avoidants don’t get anxious when they don’t get a response. Just as they don’t feel obliged to respond, they don’t feel you owe them a response.

Even when something happened and you obviously need to talk about it, a dismissive avoidant will not like what happened but not be in a hurry to talk about it, or even want to talk about it at all if the same thing has happened before. They see no need to talk about what has already been discussed, explained or agreed on. To a dismissive avoidant, that’s making a “big deal” about it.

This is the same attitude dismissive avoidant exes have when they reach out after the break-up: Let’s not talk about what happened and try to move on from it.

Where things get horribly worse after a dismissive avoidant ex reaches out is while a dismissive avoidant is trying to move on from what happened, their anxiously attached ex or anxious leaning fearful avoidant ex wants to talk about what happened.

The natural tendency for an anxious person and anxious leaning fearful avoidant is:

  • Try to understand why the break-up happened (and why it happened the way it did)
  • Apologize for what they think they did wrong even when they’re not sure what exactly they did wrong (or even think they did anything wrong)
  • Seek reassurance that their ex’s feelings have not changed and that there is a chance things can be worked out.

Often this eagerness to right the past, fix a mistake, or set the record straight is what makes anxiously attached come across as aggressive (attacking), defensive, desperate, needy, moving too fast or pushing too hard for connection and closeness.

A dismissive avoidant ex who reached out quickly realizes that it was a mistake to reach out and backs off from all contact.

A dismissive avoidant can reach out back off and reach out again

Some dismissive avoidants reach out again after initially backing off because an ex wanted to talk about the relationship, the break-up or getting back together. They’ll wait for some time to pass hoping that with time, you will have move don from the past and the two of you can now begin a new “friendly” relationship or become friends.

Unfortunately, when a dismissive avoidant backs off after initiating contact, many anxiously attached and fearful avoidants go into protest behaviour. They’re hurt, scared of “pushing” away their dismissive avoidant ex again and even angry because they got their hopes up when their dismissive avoidant ex reached out and don’t want to repeat the same mistake.

What do they do? They ignore their dismissive avoidant ex reach out. Some anxiously attached and fearful avoidants even think, “my dismissive avoidant reached out because I ignored them” or “they reached out after x weeks after no contact”. What they don’t realize or understand is, dismissive avoidants react very differently to being ignored and it’s not how anxiously attached and fearful avoidants feels or reacts.

If your dismissive avoidant reached out, don’t read too much into it. Take it for what it is:

1) It’s not completely unusual for dismissive avoidant exes to reach out after the break-up.

2) There’s no standard time for when your dismissive avoidant ex reaches out. Some dismissive avoidants never cut off contact after the breakup, some reach out a few days after the break-up and others reach out weeks and months, and even years later. And some dismissive avoidants never reach out or respond to you reaching out.

3) It takes effort on the part of a dismissive avoidant to reach out if there’s been no contact because reaching out is not a dismissive avoidant attachment natural behaviour. Which means that your dismissive avoidant ex didn’t impulsively reach out; they must have thought long and hard before reaching out.

4) Dismissive avoidants reach out even when they’ve not processed the break-up. They will reach out and ask about your life, share fun experiences and even fun memories but that only shows that they still have feelings and want to reconnect. It doesn’t necessarily mean they want to get back together.

5) A dismissive avoidant is not going to want constant back and forth exchanges or long conversations and will from time to time not respond, not because they want you to leave them alone but because that’s how they pace closeness.

6) A dismissive avoidant ex will back off after reaching out if things get too “emotional” too fast or move too fast for what they’re comfortable with.

When a dismissive avoidant ex reaches out, take one day at a time and don’t rush to wanting more contact, asking to meet, bring up past memories however pleasant you think they are, taking about the break-up and what happened or talking about getting back together. A dismissive avoidant ex will pull back d even ghost you again because that’s not what they reached out for.

Taking one day at a time with a dismissive avoidant ex allows them to ease back into contact and to become comfortable with connection again. Taking one day at a time with a dismissive avoidant ex also allows you to see the reason they reached out, decide if you’re okay with it and formulate a strategy plan for how to get them back instead of acting impulsively and inconsistently because you have no clear strategy or plan.


How To Respond When An Avoidant Ex Reaches Out

What Are A Dismissive Avoidant Breakup Stages

Dismissive Avoidant Ex Reached Out First (It’s A Big Deal)

Do Avoidants Distance From An Ex They Still Love?

How Does Being Friends Help Get an Avoidant Ex Back?

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9 replies on “Dismissive Avoidant Ex Reached Out First (What to Do)”
  1. says: Naliey

    Dismissive avoidant reached out first 3 weeks after the breakup, “Hey, how are you? I hope everyone is okay, the kids?” We dated for over a year, and he was very close to my kids 9 and 5. I waited 2 weeks then replied, “Hey you! We are all okay. I hope you are okay too.” He never replied. I waited a month then sent him a text, “I didn’t hear back from you, I hope everything is good.” No reply. Two months later, he reached out again, “I just got back from visiting my family in Greece. I have some gifts from my mom for the kids. I can drop them this weekend if that’s okay with you.” He came by and it was nothing had changed and we were family again. He text day I sent him a text and told him I missed him and the kids missed him. He hasn’t replied and that’s 2 months ago.

  2. says: Mikey

    Thank you! I’ve learned a lot about attachment styles through your articles and videos. Really appreciate them! How do I get coaching?

  3. says: my2cents

    I’ve ignored both DA and FA. DA never reached out after the breakup and when I did, he responded neutrally, was warm but distant at the same time. FA aggressively reached out and was persistent for almost 2 months. Now I’m blocked and he seems to have moved on with someone else less than 2 weeks after telling me he had strong feelings for me. Maybe this is for the best for both of us.

  4. says: TommyH

    Dismissive avoidant here. I reach out when they reach out but if someone is smothering and needs constant texting all day, I don’t reach out and prefer they don’t reach out to me.

  5. says: Dlistdesign

    Yangki, in your experience how often to avoidants come back, and what makes them come back? Btw, I love your work. Thank you.

  6. says: J-amy

    My FA reaches out consistently for a couple of weeks then stops. I reach out because you said to be consistent with them to make them feel safe. After a month or so, he starts initiating contact again, for a few weeks and stops. I finally confronted him about it because I was so tried of the games and him sabotaging the progress we made. I asked him if he still loved me and wants to get back together, and he said for now he just wants to be friends only. I told him I did not want to be his friend and he needs to tell me now so I can move on. He said it was too much pressure and neither of us has contacted the other since. It’s been 3 weeks.

    Do I reach out or move on?

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      First of all, it is rare for an FA to want to be friends with an ex. Too much uncertainty and risk for an FA. If an FA asks to be friends it’s often because:

      1) FA really doesn’t want to let you go
      2) FA leans dismissive avoidant, or
      2) FA is working on becoming more secure.

      Both dismissive and secure attachment styles score low on attachment anxiety. This allows them to be comfortable with things being “tentative” for a while.

      Should you reach out or move on depends. You first have to decide what it is you want and can get at this stage of things because I think he means it when he says now he just wants to be friends only. I don’t see that changing just because you haven’t contacted each other.

      Everyone has their beliefs about being friends with an ex for whatever reasons. My professional experience has shown that starting off as friends with an ex has advantages and actually increases your chances especially with an ex who is firm that that’s all thy can offer at the moment. The keyword is “for now”.

      You can rad more about how being fiends with an ex can lead to getting back together.

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